Bledisloe Cup: Michael Cheika fires back at Steve Hansen over Whitelock ceremony 'snub'

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has struck back at All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's implication his side 'disrespected' Sam Whitelock by leaving the field before the ceremonial presentation of his 100th test cap in Sydney.

Only a few Australia players were present as Whitelock received his commemorative cap shortly after the All Blacks' 38-13 demolition of the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium.

Hansen tiptoed around the subject when quizzed during Thursday's press conference.

"It's not for me to comment on what their policy is," he said. "You need to ask them what that is. 

"I know if it was us, we'd stay out and acknowledge it. I think it's a tremendous feat to play 100 test matches, it doesn't matter what country it is.

"There's a lot of energy, a lot of mental fortitude, a lot of time and a lot of sacrifices by the players' family to get to that point. It's worthy of respecting it."

Bledisloe Cup: Michael Cheika fires back at Steve Hansen over Whitelock ceremony 'snub'

In turn, an Australian journalist posed the question of Wallabies "disrespect" to their coach Michael Cheika, despite Hansen not having necessarily said as much.

Cheika claimed they were unaware of any plans for such a ceremony.

"I've never seen it before," said Michael Cheika, from Australia's Waiheke Island base.

"We certainly wouldn't be asking to do it on another team's ground. We do it in the dressing room, but if that's what they want to do, I'm sure they did.

"Congratulations to the player, he's a fine player. One hundred caps is a really great effort and same to the lad [Owen Franks] who's grabbing it this week as well.

"There's always respect there and to say that we lack respect is a little bit of a stretch from Steve Hansen."

The exchange is certain to add some spice to Saturday's return test in Auckland on Saturday and it will be intriguing to see how well attended Franks' post-match ceremony is by the Australian contingent.

The last time an opposition player celebrated such a milestone on New Zealand soil was Springboks midfielder Jean de Villiers in 2014, when he was gifted a bottle of champagne following an All Blacks win at Westpac Stadium.


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